Kenya MPs arrested for holding secret meeting with NISA boss Fahad Yasin in Somalia
NAIROBI, Kenya - Authorities in Nairobi are holding eight legislators from northeastern counties of Mandera and Wajir, a police source has confirmed, a day after their "secret" trip to Mogadishu.
The eight left Nairobi aboard chartered aircraft; Salaamair Air Express Flight WU-751, at 11 am local time, reports indicate.
They include; Ahmed Kolosh [Wajir West], Ibrahim Abdi [Lafey], Rashid Kassim [Wajir East], Mohamed Hire [Lagdera], Omar Maalim [Mandera East], Bashir Abdullahi [Mandera North], Adan Haji [Mandera West] and Kullow Maalim of Banisa
But multiple sources within the Kenyan government insisted that they were not representing authorities, neither were they emissaries for the country's foreign affairs department.
At Mogadishu, intelligence reports shared by NIS indicate that the team held secret talks with Somalia' National Intelligence Agency under the stewardship of a rather divisive head, Fahad Yasin.
Details of their meeting with Yasin's team remain mysterious, a move that forced Kenya's security forces to seize them at Wilson airport upon their return on Sunday.
A police source who spoke exclusively with Garowe Online said the eight will be compelled to reveal their controversial mission to Somalia, a move that would give clues to detectives.
"They landed at Wilson airport and are currently in detention," the official said, adding that "we want to know details of their secret mission".
Interestingly, the MPs did not report their mission to Parliament, which is the custodian of all matters pertaining to legislators in Kenya.
But whether the trip was private or not, the MPs will have a little bit of explanation to make, with the source intimating that they will be handed over to Director of Criminal Investigations [DCI], who will formally press charges against them.
And before they were arrested, acting at the tip of intelligence sources, police manned both Wilson airport and the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, keeping eye on their movements.
Omar Mohamed Maalim Hassan, the Mandera East MP, who has been critical of KDF's role in Jubaland, is said to be the leader of the delegation.
Incidentally, their arrest comes barely a week after Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, accused Kenya of "interfering with our sovereignty" during his interview with Universal TV in London.
He added: "we shall not allow third political bullying of independent states. We shall defend our territory and Kenya has no business in Gedo."
FGS deployed over 700 SNA troops to Gedo, a fragile region within semi-autonomous Jubaland state, a move that angered its leader, Sheikh Ahmed Madobe.
In his defense, Farmajo insisted that "even if we don't have the capacity, it's our role as FGS to defend our borders. Our troops shall remain there".
Kenya, through KDF, is a major security partner under AMISOM in Jubaland, a reason that could explain the latest scuffles which have now degenerated to the country's internal politics.
Worthy to note, the arrested MPs are said to be sympathetic to the fragile Somalia government, which has been at loggerheads with Nairobi.
"Somalia's claim of Kenyan interference as per the MOFA - ministry of foreign affairs press release will now be construed as misleading, given this new saga of Kenyan MP's secret mission to Mogadishu. The victimhood narrative will b dismissed as this will b perceived as a diplomatic turf war between two neighbors," said Abdirizak Mohamed, former Somali security minister, and current MP.
In fact, the decision by FGS to deploy troops to Gedo was reportedly engineered by Mr. Fahad Yasin, the NISA boss, a further clue as to why the MPs are in a serious quagmire over their trip.
Last week, the United States termed the move by FGS to deploy troops to Gedo "unacceptable" during their submissions at the United Nations Security Council.
Through Rodney Hunter, the US said the decision was "politically motivated" adding that it "diverts resources from the agreed roadmap for security operations".
While calling for dialogue between Jubaland and Mogadishu authorities, the US insisted that they should 'focus on combatting al-Shabaab, rather than engaging in armed conflict with each other".
A rather combative Farmajo has been blamed for destabilizing federal states by dictating local politics, but he has often defended his tactics, accusing unnamed nations of a secret plot to oust him.
The latest debacle adds to the already fragile relationship between Nairobi and Mogadishu, who are battling over Indian Ocean maritime row at the International Court of Justice.
The MPs could now face terrorism charges besides those of undermining a sovereign state, another police source told Garowe Online by phone from Nairobi.